March 21, 2008

A Professional Baller

How god-awful are the Miami Heat? Coming off a five game losing streak and a 2-8 record without CB4 in the lineup, there was no better cure for what was ailing the Toronto Raptors than the so-called "basketball team" from the sunny confines of south Florida.

The Raps, with Bosh back in the lineup, opened up a can of whoop ass against the Heat on Wednesday night, the likes of which haven't been seen around these parts before. It was the biggest win in Toronto franchise history, a 42-point margin with a final score that read 96-54. The Raptors scored more points in the first half - 58 - than the Heat managed all game. If that doesn't blow you away, this should: Chuck Swirsky brought out the salami and cheese with three minutes the second quarter.

It's been a tough season for Miami. Those of us who play sports have all been in the situation where the team you're up against is just a gazillion times better than yours. You know it, the opposition knows it, and you don't have a prayer. It's not fun, and I can't imagine Wednesday night was for anyone involved with the Miami organization - players, coaches and fans. The Heat's 54 points were the third-lowest in NBA history and they shot an unbelievable 26% from the floor. What a bunch of chucker's. I'm not sure the Heat roster could beat any one of the NCAA college squads. They're that bad.

Anyways, Bosh is back, and it will be interesting to see if the Raptors struggles are behind them. With only a handful of games left in the season and the team only two games above .500, I'm not sure how high expectations can really be going into the playoffs.

Perhaps the recent dive in the standings - thanks to a Bosh-less roster and a seriously erratic T.J. Ford - is a blessing in disguise. Perhaps more losses is exactly what this team needs in order to, well, I'll be honest, avoid the Cleveland Cavaliers and King James in the playoffs.

The Eastern Conference is downright brutal, so there's no worries about missing the playoffs. The New Jersey Nets are proud owners of a 29-39 win-loss record and currently occupy the eighth and final playoff spot. That is sad. By comparison, the Denver Nuggets of the supreme Western Conference, who spanked the Raptors last week, own a 40-28 record - 12 freakin' games over .500! - and they're two and a half games out of a playoff spot. It just goes to show that life isn't fair.

If the season ended today the Dinos would open the playoffs on the road in Cleveland. Not good. Nobody can guard Lebron, especially the Raptors. And LBJ has been known to light it up at the Air Canada Centre. We must avoid the King, at all costs. The Orlando Magic, whom the Raptors line up much better against, are comfortably in third place in the East, trailing Detroit by five games and ahead of the Cavs by five and a half. With that being said, the Raptors need to finish sixth. Straight up. Let the Washington Wizards and super douche Gilbert Arenas, who trail the Raptors by only half a game in the standings, deal with Lebron.

I hate to say that I want the Raptors to lose, but I really don't want to see a first-round match up with Lebron James. The Raptors are still a couple of pieces away from being a true contender and this is another "gain some playoff experience" year, but they've got to make it out of the first round to gain said experience. Against LBJ and the Cavs, that ain't happening.

On to the title of this post. It's time to show some love to Rasho Nesterovic. Although the Raptors got their tails handed to them while Bosh was out, Rasho was awesome in his absence. If former Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Frank Catalanotto is a "professional hitter," then my main man Rasho is a "professional baller." He never complains about playing time but is always ready when called upon. He's a pro and he goes out on the floor and competes. Rasho has seen limited minutes this year as the super inconsistent Andrea Bargnani starts every night but going forward, if the Raptors want to win a playoff round, Rasho has to play. Plain and simple.

In the 10 games that Rasho started while Bosh dealt with his knee injury, he was workmanlike and consistent in his contributions. He averaged 13.2 points and 7.3 rebounds a night as a starter and shot a beautiful 53.7% from the field. Rasho can still bring it at both the offensive and defensive end. He commands respect and really sets the tone for the Raptors defense, and that's huge because if there's one thing the Raptors can't do, it's defend and rebound.

Wednesday night in the practice against the Heat, with SMitch easing Bosh back into the lineup, Rasho played 30 minutes, scored 12 points on six-of-nine shooting, and picked up four rebounds, four assists and three blocks. I love Rasho Nesterovic.

In the playoffs last year against the Nets, Rasho started the first four games of the series. However, his minutes went down after the second game. He only played a touch under 11 minutes in game four, less than two minutes in game five, and didn't get on the floor in the sixth and final game of the series. Sam Mitchell, I demand more Rasho in this year's playoffs. He's clearly still got game and for a big man has some pretty good range. He can hit the long jumper and has even got a sweet hook shot.

As you can see, I'm big on Rasho Nesterovic. And you should be too. He's a professional baller and can only help the Toronto Raptors.

On that note, it's the long weekend, so I'm off to the great city of Cleveland, Ohio, to take in the Raptors and Cavaliers game (yes, it's true, I will be missing the Leafs game). And for the record, I'm not going to see Lebron. I'm going to see Rasho.

Oh, and I'm with Doug Smith. The boo-age by Raptors fans against the Heat, because they didn't score 100 points to get the fans their precious pizza, was lame. Seriously lame. The Raptors won by 42 points for Christ's sake, and they were booed? Come on Toronto, we're better than that. That's something the folks over in Ottawa or Montreal would do.


Anonymous said...

Since this blog the beloved Raptors have lost 2 straight and are now 500. What's worse, our upcoming schedule has us up against the shockingly good New Orleans and Detriot and the lowly Knicks. It's not far fetched to see us a game below 500. I agree with you Navin, we should finish 6th. I'd much face the man-child Dwight than the best player in game King James. I just hope the Raps can get things together for the playoffs. How much do we miss the hustle and pure grit of Garbo.

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